Monday, January 16, 2006

I wonder as I wander

The bumpersticker says "All who wander are not lost." This is true as I wander about, following links and threads and find gems along the way.

The wandering wasn't far from home in this case. I just clicked on the link of a Friend who commented on my previous post and found the web site for Freedom Friends Church in Salem, Oregon.

And paging through it, I found this lovely piece. It rings a dim bell in the back of my memory and may have been printed elsewhere before, or derived from another source, but I like it and think it adds to the conversation. Thank you, Friend Peggy, for making the connection.

Finding a Spiritual Home

We live in an age of spiritual renegades, refugees and ramblers. Most people have some spiritual beliefs, and consider themselves to be spiritual persons, but many have written off organized religion all together. Yet there is a craving for a true spiritual home.
  • A place where you don’t have to fake to fit in
  • A place where they know your name
  • People who see your ugly bits and like you anyway
  • A place where you can talk honestly about your doubts and beliefs
  • A balance between comfort and challenge
  • A place to give your best stuff for a cause you believe in
  • People who walk their talk, and ask you to do the same
  • A place where God shows up and you can feel it
  • Don’t give up on finding a place like this
  • Your souls needs a home as much as your body does!
"Is it Possible that you might be a Quaker and not know it?"

You might be a Quaker if…
  • You think listening is at least as important as talking.
  • You think justice means more than just locking up criminals.
  • You are more interested in being like Christ than in being like most Christians.
  • You want to read the Bible but you don’t want to be beaten with it.
  • You think the contents of a person’s heart is more important than the contents of their house.
  • You are more worried about the Hell that people live in here and now than any Hell they might occupy after death.
  • You think war makes more problems than it solves.
  • You suspect than nobody was ever saved by a ritual.
  • You think mandatory creeds and dogma fit like a strait-jacket.
  • You think the best ministers are often found sitting in the pews.
  • You think investing great leaders with great power is dangerous.
  • You think equality is not so much a goal to be sought, but a fact that is often ignored.
  • You think honesty is not just the best policy, but that it ought to be the only policy.
  • You think that church business should not look like “business as usual”.
  • You think that good relationships are more important than good arguments


Liz Opp said...

Hi, Paul.

Thanks for sharing this piece here. I find that while it speaks to me at one level, I find that it lacks something at another.

I realize that this piece is akin to things like, "You might be a Minnesotan if...," said with a nice balance of humor and truth.

At first glance, these statements certainly speak to one layer of Quakerism, the layer that often is easiest to talk about. And of course the piece made me smile at myself, as I recognized myself for the Quaker that I am.

Quakerism, though, is more than what we think. These statements reflect on the values that many Friends share but do not allude to the transformative experiences for which Friends also are supposedly to be striving.

Such are topics that are lifted up in the Thomas Gates' pamphlet, Members One of Another.

So I would add to the list (and I am seldom known for my sense of humor, so I'm not taking the time to make these funny):

You Might Be A Quaker If...

- You seek to be transformed so you can live more fully into your measure of Light.
- You desire support from others to be faithful to and test your inner nudges and prompts.
- You get excited when there is conflict and tension between two truths, because you know that a third and larger Truth is likely to be revealed.

Maybe some other readers can add other things...? Or spice up what I provide here with more humor, any humor...? wink

Liz, The Good Raised Up

Claire said...

Yes, the You might be a Quaker if.. list did make me smile as well. I do also, though, agree with Liz on this one, that ultimately Quakerism goes way beyond what we think. Let's see if I can come up with anything to add..

You Might be a Quaker If..
-You "think" with your heart in the Light before you articulate and act with your mind and body

..well, I guess that's all; nothing else comes to mind.

Thanks for the post!

Love and Light,

Paul L said...

I see this document as a piece of outreach to those not already familiar with Friends. Of course there are deeper ways of describing our collective experience and of whittling our various aspects down to their irreducible nub. But as a general invitation to the public, I think it's an honest and positive statement about who Friends are and why others should consider joining us.

This is especially true when this piece is read in the context of the other information on Freedom Friends Church's web site. Upon first reading at least, the material I found there seemed to be among the most authentic statements of what it means to be a Friend in the 21st Century, succesfully bridging the gaps between the various branches of Friends in a way that is true to our historical experience and relevant to our current prediciment.

By the way, I should clarify that the dim bells of my memory are mistaken and that Peggy Senge Parsons has confirmed that she is the author of the material I quote in my blog. She also kindly consented to my reprinting it here.

Peggy Senger Parsons said...

Thank you Liz and Claire for the further thinking. It thrills me that this little piece would provoke anybody to deeper thinking.

Paul is correct that this bit was done for LOCAL outreach for FFC. It is a good beginning introduction and invitation to OUR church. I have lived WAY too long and traveled too far to think that anything can speak for all Friends. There are several bits of this that are really objectionable to, and would not describe the beliefs of, many FUM and EFI Friends; and hence the majority of Friends.

As to the THINK issue - I completely agree with you. That was a literary device. A person following this list to FFC would find out quickly that we DO a lot, and SEEK and DESIRE at all times. A thinking only faaith would be a "silly poor gospel".


Joe G. said...

although I appreciate the additions that Liz and Claire offer, and appreciate that Peggy, whose church these statements belong to, concurred, I agree with Paul. These are meant to be an outreach to those that are new or unfamiliar to Quakerism. The additions that Liz and Claire make probably would work well for those who have already made a commitment to this way of faith. It could even go into a local Meeting's Book of Discipline.

OK, I'll now reverse myself a bit and state that something about a desire to be transformed by God would be a good addition.

And then, OTH, Peggy is completely correct, given that I am familiar with this site, that the statement is one of a piece of informatin offered to the public; and that no statement can completely encompass all things to all Friends.

I'll stop now. Thanks for offering this to the rest of the blogosphere, Paul. And if I'm ever in the neighborhood, I'd love to fellowship with Friends at FFC!

Liz Opp said...

To Peggy and Paul,

Thanks for putting that piece in context... I have to admit, it's hard for me to think back to before I was Quaker and to consider what would have helped me understand back then who modern Quakers were at the time.

Liz, The Good Raised Up

Martin Kelley said...

I love Peggy's piece and appreciate all the thoughtful comments. As I sit here though, all I can think of is silly wiseass additions. You know, "you might be Quaker if you think the New York Times is a spiritual resource." Half-a-dozen more have flitted through my head in the last thirty seconds but I'm sure I'd offend someone (maybe even myself!) if I started down this path (grin) so I'll hold off. Sorry for the irreverent humor. It's not a Quaker weekend for me (my wife and I swap off every week) which is why I'm here reading blogs in my PJs on a Sunday morning when I should be off to Meeting...

Lorcan said...

I'd say that thee is a Quaker if thee TRYS to live the sermon on the mount. I have not know a lot of Quakers. I've met a lot of members of meetings.

I have known a few, they often set a standard by which we are known... but, like the rest of the world... alot of us don't try very hard. Frankly, I think it is easier to forgive, to atone, to be gentle, but... ah well. A bit sad these days...

Paul L said...

Lorcan: I'd say one's a Christian who tries to live the sermon on the mount. One's a Quaker who makes that attempt in a particular way.